By Jake Smith
Irish MMA has caught the attention of fans around the world for some time. Back in 2015, several young prospects represented the tri colours at IMMAF Championships competing in both the Worlds and the European Open.
The 2015 IMMAF World Championships took place in Las Vegas from 6-11 July. Overall, it was not the most successful run out for Team Ireland, only medalling twice, however, numerous members of the Irish team have gone on to establish themselves as notable names in the professional ranks.
The biggest success story of the year for Team Ireland came in the featherweight division. At 6-2, Frans Mlambo came into the 2015 World Championships with solid amateur experience. Following victories over Abylai Tolesh, David Evans & Nicolas Ott, faced Joel Moya Schonodorff of Team Sweden, in the final. Mlambo came out on top and clinched the only gold of Ireland’s World Championships that year.
Sinead Kavanagh was the second most successful Irish athlete that year, securing silver in the women’s featherweight division. The World Championships would prove to be Kavangh’s final bouts as an amateur, before turning pro two months later.
James Gallagher and Kiefer Crosbie also represented Ireland at the 2015 Worlds. After a 3rd round rear-naked choke victory against Sam Agushi, Gallagher had to withdraw from the competition due to injury. Crosbie would be back later in the year to compete in the European Open.
Alongside Crosbie, Ryan Spilane and Sam Slater also fought at the 2015 IMMAF European Open Championships, which was held in Birmingham, England, from 19-22 November. All three made it to the quarter finals in their respective weight divisions.
Fast forward six years later, and many of the aforementioned athletes are now signed to global promotions. Gallagher, Kavanagh, Crosbie, Miambo have been leading the charge of Irish MMA in Bellator for several years.
After clinching gold at the 2020 Oceania Open, Spillane joined his fellow Irish IMMAF Alumni and signed with Bellator in mid-2020.
Sam Slater has competed in numerous promotions including BAMMA, Brave CF and most recently, Bellator.
Aforementioned athletes full results:
Kiefer Crosbie – 2015 World Championships (first round), 2015 European Open (Quarter Final)
James Gallagher – 2015 World Championships (first round – Withdrew due to injury)
Sinead Kavanagh – 2015 World Championships (Silver, Featherweight)
Frans Mlambo- 2015 World Championships (Gold, Featherweight)
Ryan Spilane- 2015 European Open (Quarter Final)
Sam Slater- 2015 European Open (Quarter Final)